Originally posted and property of www.gamerscoreaddicts.net
Some things are dead certs in gaming. Call of Duty will be released every year, dance games will always go to no 1 on the charts and every new Fable game will come with a companion game to farm gold with. Fable 2 had Pub Games on XBLA, Fable 3 had Coin Golf on WP7 and Fable: The Journey has Fable Heroes.
However Fable Heroes is different than its predecessors as its actually a lot of fun to play and works well as a stand alone game. Essentially its a 2D hack 'n' slash in a 3D world, your aim is to get from one end of the level to the other destroying all things in your way and collecting as much gold as possible.
The main difference is the fact that there are always four players on screen. Whether your playing online with people or privately the game insists you have four characters in play. Thankfully the AI is quite smart and manages to react intelligently to the current situation most of the time, even collecting gold if its left around too long. This is really helpful though as gold is needed to level up characters and your AI characters level up alongside your playable character.
Being a Fable game there are pseudo RPG elements attached as well. At the end of each level you are awarded dice rolls which you can use on the abilities board. Much like a game of monopoly you travel round the board and the squares you land on will allow you to purchase new abilities for your characters using the gold you've acquired. These abilities range from cosmetic touches to increased damage for your character. Once you've maxed out the outer board of abilities your character can use the inner board which have abilities you can use for one level only but are much more powerful than the outer board options. Cleverly the inner abilities are only unlocked once certain achievements have been completed urging you to really max out this game.
The characters themselves will be instantly familiar to fans of the Fable series. Do you remember the tough Doll collectible achievement from Fable 2, well we now know why those dolls were so important. They are the essential part of Fable Heroes, as they're what you'll be playing as!! You start off with a collection of dolls in the form of the three Heroes of Fable 2, Hammer, Garth and Reaver as well as the Hero from Fable 3. More dolls can be unlocked as you play through the game unlocking dolls of characters from Fable, Fable: The Lost Chapters as well as Fable 2 & 3. There are also two extra characters unlockable on purchase of Fable: The Journey.
However unlike some hack 'n'slash with interchangeable characters each doll handles differently. Mages and pistol experts will hang back and deal damage from afar while the more melee based will get up close and personal. Some dolls even amalgamate two of the classes and so will shoot from afar before using a sword up close.
Another addition to the game are various power-ups found in chests around the levels. These can range from increasing speed or damage to a cloud zapping away your gold. As a nod to the moral choices of Fable there are also sometimes Good and Evil chests next to each other. You can only open one chest and then one character is randomly chosen to receive either a good or bad power up dependant on what chest was opened. It's a nice little touch which can add a lot of fun to multiplayer games and a fair amount of abuse from the recipient of an Evil chest!!
There isn't a story as such for the game, which is a real shame as even Coin Golf gave a reason for playing. Locales for the levels will be familiar to players of Fable 3 as you'll play in Bowerstone, Millfields, Aurora and the like combating enemies lifted from Fable 3 too. The world itself is unlocked as you progress through the levels and the world screen is laid out much like a giant child’s game which nicely ties in with the doll characters you play as.
Each level also has a choice at the end of them. One path will take you to a boss fight while the other takes you to a mini game to compete in. While the boss fights are pretty standard fare with the combat being a batter and run approach the mini games are a little more inventive. There are button bashing races to compete in, as well as various chicken based events as it seems Fable Heroes doesn't want to miss out on the traditional chicken abuse that Fable is famous for.
Although it won't take you long to finish playing through all the levels on offer, there is still plenty of replayability within the game. On top of a Dark version of Albion available on completion of the main levels (which raises the difficulty and changes the enemies you'll fight), each level has a medal awarded to it dependant on how much gold you acquire and you won't reach the gold medal without first maxing out your characters abilities. There is also the Cloud level which is remaining locked until the top 100 players of Fable Heroes have accumulated 1 million gold each so extra incentives to keep playing are in place too.
As can be expected with a game like this the multiplayer is very polished. With the ability to drop in and out of other people's games with ease and the fact that all gold and abilities gained are kept on returning to your own game, Lionhead have certainly considered their target audience. Best of all on all but the hardest difficulty there's no way to fail the level. If your character dies then they come back as a ghost and the only penalty is they can't gain any more gold till they're alive again. Once you find a heart though you can come straight back to life and continue accumulating gold. So even if you're all wiped out by a boss you can still continue playing without having to restart. Perfect for playing with your kids then and it's replaced Castle Crashers as my son's favourite game to play.
Visually the game is very clear most of the time. Like most hack 'n' slash games at times it can get very crowded and you can lose your character. Thankfully Lionhead have added a feature so holding down LT will put a spotlight under your character making it easier to spot them. The downside is all characters have the same white spotlight so if two people use it it can still be a bit unclear which character is which. Also the mini versions of the enemies can be hard to distinguish and spot in certain areas.
The music is as good as you'd expect from a Fable game and perfectly fits the game and changes to fit each locale. There's plenty going on audio wise as well with the sound effects of all your fighting plus the dolls say short phrases and whistle as well, but this can become a little distracting while playing.
As ever Lionhead have done a solid job of creating some fun achievements and to get the full 400 will require a fair amount of effort but it will be a feeling of satisfaction when its done. As I mentioned earlier the inner board abilities are tied to achievements and won't unlock till certain achievements are obtained giving you one more reason to max the game.
All in all this is a solid game with a lot of fun to be had. Although its been created to help promote Fable: The Journey and be used to farm gold for it, it actually stands well on its own basis. While quite not at the level of Castle Crashers (its main competition), this is a game which will still give you several hours of enjoyment and replayablity especially when playing with friends. A little bit more narrative to the game and some variance in the boss battles would have been welcome but overall its certainly got that addictive feel to it and well worth picking up if your a fan of the genre.